Two established veterans, with a bunch of unproven options behind them.
No, our wide receivers preview is coming Monday. We’re talking about Boise State’s tight ends.
After juniors Jake Roh (68 career receptions) and Alec Dhaenens (four), none of Boise State’s tight ends have made a catch, let alone played in a college football game.
“They’ll get down and dirty. ... They’ll put their face in there and block; they’ll make a tough catch,” tight ends coach Kent Riddle said. “Their versatility, we can mix and match guys. We’ve got big play guys. We can get some stuff done.”
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But there is a measured confidence about the unit heading into this season with a multitude of different options. In addition to the veterans, there is sophomore Chase Blakley, who missed last season with a torn Achilles tendon, but the former Washington commit has finally been healthy this fall. Riddle said “he’s done a great job this fall,” praising his all-around abilities.
Then there is Jake Knight, a one-time Oregon State football signee who competed in track and field at Auburn for a season. Knight had a 53-yard touchdown catch in one of the spring scrimmages. He and redshirt freshman Matt Pistone, who has shown some blocking prowess, according to Riddle, “are totally different guys from spring.”
“I think the whole group has a ton of potential,” Blakley said.
A lot of potential, but outside of Roh’s production, little to no impact in the passing game so far. However, with the position’s need to block as much as go on routes, and the constant shifts and motions, it will be a well-seasoned group come gametime.
“The good thing about it is we ask enough of those guys over the course (of the offseason) that I think we’ve got a pretty good feel of when they can handle it and when they can’t,” Riddle said. “We know what those guys are capable of.”
The most known commodity is Roh, who had 35 catches as a freshman and 33 last season, both performances the best by a Boise State tight end since Jeb Putzier’s 44 in 2001. With Holden Huff (18 catches, three TDs) and Jake Hardee (two catches, one TD) graduated, and David Lucero (four catches, 63 yards) dismissed from the team in January, Roh has his sights set on being even a bigger part of the offense.
“In the run game, in the pass game, I’m going to have to do more,” Roh said. “Taking that on, I’m totally fine with that and ready to do it.”
Riddle said there will certainly be times the Broncos can trot out four tight ends in certain situations, and that means some faith in what the group can do and the options it contains.
“We’re a really close group. It lets us operate like we do,” Dhaenens said. “Each one can bring something a little different, but we all want to be physical; we can make plays. If we all can do everything, it’s going to make it that much harder to gameplan for us.”
The depth provides a luxury for Boise State to likely redshirt a pair of big freshmen in Nick Crabtree (6-foot-7, 263 pounds) and John Bates (6-6, 229).
The past two seasons have been productive for the Boise State tight ends, combining for 59 receptions last season and 47 in 2014. In Chris Petersen’s final season in Boise, the group combined for 20. Roh said this fall, “the tight ends are getting involved a lot.” Riddle said he often hears questions if the group will get involved more, and even if it’s not in a starring role, they’ll get used plenty.
“Unless you have Rob Gronkowski, you’re not going to have 100 catches,” Riddle said. “The ball’s gotta go where it’s gotta go. We’ll continue to use them in a variety of ways, move them around and be a big deal in just about every part of the offense.”
Tight ends depth chart (projected)
- Jake Roh, 6-3, 227, RJr.: Consistent, reliable option adds additional threat in pass game.
- Alec Dhaenens, 6-3, 245, RJr.: Has been a solid blocker, looking to improve as receiver.
- Chase Blakley, 6-4, 246, RSo.: Tons of talent, well-rounded, but has yet to play (injured in 2015).
- Matt Pistone, 6-3, 249, RFr.: Has shown ability in H-back role as blocker, short pass catcher.
- Jake Knight, 6-4, 232, RSo.: Intriguing athlete, redshirted in 2015 after spending 2014 away from football.